Often, users experience slow upload speeds even though their download speed is functioning at a lightning-fast level. Unless you are accessing the internet via dedicated fiber, Native Ethernet, Optical Wavelength Service (OWS), leased lines, EoFTTC (Ethernet over Fiber to The Cable), EFM (Ethernet First Mile), or Ethernet over copper (EoC), your connection is likely to have different upload speeds vs download speeds (this is known as asymmetrical). Internet connections with the same upload and download speeds are termed Symmetrical.
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Upload speed is defined as the number of megabits of data sent per second from your computer to the server on the internet or another device. While most business internet activity involves downloading, some tasks require data to be uploaded as well. This is commonly seen when you send emails, use a VoIP phone, upload Microsoft 365 documents to SharePoint, or play live video games over the internet at work! For business locations, with fewer than five people, asymmetrical service may be fine as long as the service (typically cable coax or DSL) has 10 Mbps or more upload speed. For 6-15 people, CarrierBid typically recommends 20 Mbps upload speed or greater if it is available. For 16 or more people, a dedicated connection will most likely be needed. Keep in mind that an asymmetrical internet circuit IS widely used as a secondary backup or BGP enabled circuit so you may want to have both a dedicated circuit and an asymmetrical circuit to improve reliability.
An upstream speed of 3 Mbps for a home user is often considered as an acceptable upload speed, however, if multiple members in your household work from home via the internet, then it is recommended to implement an internet circuit with much higher speeds for uploading data as streaming can conflict with business and VoIP usage.
Download speed refers to the number of megabits of data that gets downloaded per second from a server. This data can be in the form of videos, images, text, etc. For less than five business users, a download speed of a minimum 25 Mbps may meet the required broadband threshold and is therefore, considered a reasonable connection speed.
Activities like streaming videos on Netflix or listening to music on stations like Spotify are some instances where you are required to download data, however, your online activity, the number of devices connecting to your network, as well as the number of users accessing your internet connection will have a strong bearing on your download speed. CarrierBid found that businesses located near residential areas, can often see decreased speeds during the afternoon hours as children and teenagers get home from school and begin online gaming along with video/audio streaming. The reason for this problem is that most cable coax providers have designed a shared fiber and coax infrastructure for a given sector of the city and when users increase dramatically, all are negatively impacted. Interestingly, DSL services provided by the Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) are not typically impacted in this way but DSL may not be available at the higher bandwidths a business might see with cable coax. We normally recommended that IT departments disable audio/video streaming in business locations to limit the possible negative impacts of this type of usage on bandwidth as well.
As a general rule, CarrierBid recommends purchasing the highest amount of download bandwidth speed that you can afford since it typically will pay for itself in productivity gains for your employees and improves employee morale since each activity they undertake can be accomplished quickly without the need to wait for a slow internet connection. Additionally, as more businesses convert to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or UcaaS (Unified Communications as a Service), managing bandwidth will ensure data usage won’t impact voice quality. Further, the IT team can enable QoS, (Quality of Service) which will prioritize critical voice traffic.
It is very common for internet service providers to offer plans with higher download speeds than upload speeds since they don’t want businesses to host servers over low-cost, low-margin cable coax and DSL connections that are based in homes or business locations. Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) or Carriers really want businesses to purchase high-speed fiber optic connections that are much more profitable and more difficult to displace by the service of a competitor.
In data networking terms, symmetry and asymmetry refer to the connectivity and the speed of data flowing in the two directions. The difference between these connection types is explained below:
In simple terms, symmetrical internet connections offer no difference between the connection’s upload speed vs download speed. The biggest benefit of such a connection is that users can get the same high speeds regardless of the application that they’re using and regardless of the direction of the data flow. Some of the popular symmetrical connections include Native Ethernet fiber optic services, EFM (Ethernet First Mile), Optical Wavelength Service (OWS), leased lines, EoFTTC (Ethernet over Fiber to The Cabinet), and Ethernet over Copper (EoC). These connections help ensure uncontended internet access to enable users stream data at faster speeds at all times irrespective of the direction of data.
Symmetrical connections are recommended if your business setting requires extensive use of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solutions such as hosted telephony. This type of internet connection helps you avoid any delays while ensuring excellent audio quality at the same time.
In a typical small branch office location, you will notice a substantial difference between upload speed vs download speed. This is because ISPs usually offer asymmetrical internet connections for a very low cost. This is a direct result of internet activity which is typically seen as more download-intensive than otherwise. Asymmetrical connections are recommended for office environments where there is no rigid bandwidth requirement. Typically, asymmetrical connections are the traditional DSL, cable coax and FTTC connections. Contrary to what some might say, asymmetrical connections are considered more efficient than symmetrical connections. This is because most office environments are not required to spend equally on upload and download speeds since not all users will require high-speed internet upload data access. Therefore, in such cases, it makes more sense to implement asymmetrical connections with a higher download speed than upload speed. With DSL, cable coax and FTTC, you can achieve sufficiently high download speeds even if upload speeds are limited.
Both symmetrical, as well as asymmetrical internet connections come with their own set of attributes that make them uniquely special depending on your business usage, budget, and requirements. We have created the following scenarios where one of these two technologies will fit appropriately.
Technology is certainly not constant in the world today, so it is very important to keep this in mind while selecting between different types of internet access connections. You’ll also want to make sure that you provision services and plan ahead for the future if your business is likely to grow and expand into an entity employing numerous staff members. If you have future business initiatives that will require more data or voice usage, then you may want to consider a symmetrical connection from day one since it can more easily be expanded. A symmetrical connection will also be more reliable since it is fiber based and is not susceptible to outages and problems often associated with copper-based solutions such as DSL and cable coax. Whatever you choose, CarrierBid will be here to help you decide so please fill out the form below and we’ll get in touch with you right away.